Saturday, October 18, 2014

The Ballad of Jayne

Micah told me she'd give me anything if I could guess what song was in her head. Naturally, I clarified the rules; she offered me nine yes-or-no questions and ten notes of the song (whistled, so no lyrical or instrumental questions), then one guess.

Now, when someone offers you *anything*, you must take the game seriously. I mean, I could turn a promise of anything into thisthis, or even this!

I started asking about the title of the song - four questions (and some slipped info by Micah) got me that it started with "The B" followed by a vowel (she had to do some fact checking to make sure she knew the official name of the song, which was a bad sign for this strategy of guessing). "Neat! I can probably Google that if I narrow the range" I thought, so another set of questions got me that it was made between 1970 and 2004 and was featured on a sci fi show! These questions took me wayyy too long to think of, by the way (like an hour, ha!).

The ten notes were given last - and they were not familiar to me at all! Micah's seen a limited number of science fiction, so the selections were limited (basically only things she's watched in our nearly three years of marriage - incidentally, her mother seemed disparaged to learn I've got her watching Star Trek TNG and that she loves it).

I ruled out Star Trek, then Battlestar Gallactica, and realized it must be Firefly! I did a search for "Firefly theme song" and Google returned "The Ballard of Serenity" - a ha, it fits! I knee-jerked and blurted out "My guess is 'the Ballad of Serenity'!"

Wrong! So close, and so wrong! After so much careful thought and manipulative questioning, I got hasty and missed the mark by a hair's width! Fortunately, Micah didn't specify any prize for herself if I lost, but she certainly gloated.

Oh, the song was from Firefly, officially titled "The Ballad of Jayne" (though guessing "Hero of Canton" or even "that song in Firefly about Jayne" would have sufficed):

Friday, September 5, 2014

Falling Fowl Feces

The Fail: I was riding my bike in Australia (circa 2009) and recall a specific place where a small thud hit the back of my helmet.  Upon inspection, I learned I had been pooped on, you know, by a bird. It was gross, but at least not this gross.

After that experience (and watching that video), I have taken measures to minimize chance encounters with avian fecal matter.

There's really only two rules to follow to avoid bird blasts:

  1. Directly observe birds.  If you see a bird, stationary or in motion, take care to not be under it or any vector at which a projectile poop could propel to your person.  Birds lack sphincter muscles and simply can't control when or where they go.
  2. Indirectly observe birds.  If you are walking and see a concentration of bird poop on the ground, you can be sure at least one bird hangs out directly over that spot, be it a tree branch, lamp post, or power line.  I have found it worth it to habitually imagine such spots as impassible pillars (of poop!) and walk around them, even when inconvenient or embarrassing.  It's better to explain "I don't like getting pooped on." and seem odd than to actually get pooped on. I promise.
I just took a short walk through a park near my office - a walk I take so often I know all the path's "poop pillars" - and walked around a speckled spot of stool as a turd tumbled from the tree above. So, as of today, I've tied up the score. 

Hank: 1
Birds: 1

PS Sorry this is my second poop-related post in a row.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Poopshake Alliteratives and Parallelisms

The other day, after a quick stop at Jack In The Box, we returned from a great day trip to find our boy had used the 1.5 hour drive home to see just how much he could poop without us noticing.

It's a lot.

Like, overflowing-in-the-car-seat-and-dripping-on-the-carpet-as-we-rush-him-to-the-tub a lot.

Don't be fooled by his snugly wiles - he's literally full of ****
About 15 minutes, 50 wet wipes, two towels, one trip to the garbage can, and three steps back inside later, I felt the soft, warm squish of moderately viscous infantile feces flow between my big and second toes.

Five minutes, three wet wipes, 14 squirts of cleaner, and two rags later, I sat down with Micah to enjoy an episode of TNG and my much awaited chocolate Oreo milkshake (yes, if you ask they make the Oreo milkshake with chocolate ice cream).  I had told my brother earlier that day how I hadn't consumed a milkshake in a while and had been avoiding my favorite treat, but after the day's hike I thought it was well deserved.

Then I spilled it.

I think I thought about crying for a second.  Another moderately viscous (though normally highly viscous, it had been waiting 20+ minutes for me by now) semi-fluid on the carpet.  But this one stung.  I had spilled it and nothing I could do would bring it back and consume the delicious.

I was so distraught that Micah took the repeat round of rag-on-rug rubbing and I realized something important as I mourned my milkshake mishap:

Poop piling up doesn't really make life worse; losing the milkshakes does really make life worse.  It's because poop can be disposed of and always is with a little effort, but milkshakes were meant to be enjoyed and, once lost, are impossible to recover and practically irreplaceable.

James likes when his mom reads to him :-)
Glad I've got my many metaphorical milkshakes that aren't getting dropped on the carpet anytime soon, particularly Micah and James.

And yeah, even if he's got poop literally coming out of his pants, I love my little buddy.

If you commented with your best/worst poop and/or milkshake story, I'd be down with it.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

French Military Victories: I'm Feeling Lucky!

I played tennis with my friend, Andrew Bates, last Saturday morning.  The skies were clear, blue and sunny and I got some good exercise while getting repeatedly beaten without contest.  After a few warm up rallies and explanation of forgotten rules (it's been several years since I've played), we played a few games, er, sets... matches? Irregardless, I lost every single one.  I think the best I did was scoring two points in a row one time.

Tennis Fail.At any rate, I was horrible, but had fun.  Honestly, I think my reflections on failure have enabled me to have more fun, even in defeat.

On Monday (Memorial Day), I went disc golfing; Micah and James came along for the walk.  On the second hole I lost a disc to a small jungle off the fairway.  That, plus the unusually crowded day on the course made me just quit early and opt in for a family walk.

Oh, what do those defeats have to do with the post title you ask? If you don't know, you won't understand. ;-)

Friday, July 12, 2013

MLMs and Pyramid Schemes

My first task upon graduating high school was to obtain a good job.  My dad suggested construction, but I refused to apply to any manual labor jobs - not because I was lazy, but because I knew any future career I held would be in an office, so why not get some white collar experience immediately?  I soon had two jobs in phone sales and lead generation, but not before a very short experience with an MLM.

I went to a recruiting meeting for the MLM at an office the organization had.  They were adamant about a two things:
  1. My success was guaranteed - no special skills were prerequisite in order to make lots of money;
  2. To get the benefits, I needed to sign up right then and there... by cutting a substantial check to the manager.
When my dad returned from out of town and I reported I had a job, he seemed quite disappointed in my naive decision.  Taking his advice, I returned to the office and was able to get 80 percent of my money back.  My other jobs worked out very well and have put me on a great path.  Here's a few important things I learned about MLMs from the experience and observations since:
  1. MLMs don't have prerequisites:
    • You have to have good sales (persuasive) skills;
    • You have to be willing to sell to your friends and family, which can jeopardize those relationships. 
  2. MLMs don't screen those entering the opportunity (e.g. I was barely 18, had no experience, and they didn't even ask for a resume or reference).
  3. They use junk taglines like these:
    • "Unlimited potential" - "Limited Risk" - "No boss" - "Work from home" - "Make $X in Y time" - "Newly discovered X with Y results"
  4. Someone has to lose in order for you to win and it's by a direct transfer of money - there will always be people on the bottom of the pyramid who can't expand their downline.
  5. If an organization is more focused on signing new distributors than selling its product, it is a pyramid scheme. Take this company for example, where I can't even figure out how to buy an individual bottle of the product anywhere on the site, let alone the main page where every reasonable and credible business sells their products.  One piece of evidence is in polarized reviews of the actual product that distributors "sell."
  6. There is no easy way to money.  Don't let greed or laziness blind you into investing into something that isn't real.  Consider Elder Holland's speech at BYU, where he talks about how Utahns are particularly susceptible to get-rich-quick schemes.
  7. Finally, economics has taught me that any market without a barrier to entry (e.g. an opportunity which has no prerequisite skills, only requires a cash investment to begin, etc.) is not profitable.  See #s 1 and 2.
Many of my friends have tried to talk me into MLM opportunities over the past few years.  I've research every one my friends get involved with and advise them against it if not too late.  I try to follow up as well, and have found no profitable friends.  None.  Statistically, I think I will eventually have a friend who is profitable, but imagine it will be at the expense of their friends and family.  At least I learned on an MLM that gave me most of my money back.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Paralyzingly Shy

Until I was about 5 years old, I shied away from talking to anyone outside of my immediate family, meaning I'd only talk to my mom, dad, and two older brothers (Jake was born when I was five).  In public places, I would literally hide behind my mom if someone tried to talk to me.  I wouldn't even talk to my grandparents!

I'm told that I once played a game with my Grandpa Taylor; he reported to my parents that "he's smart, but he sure don't talk."  I'm also told some of my extended family thought I needed to be tested (you know, to see if my brain was working right and I had all my chromosomes).  Much of their fears were alleviated when the following happened, which I feel appropriate to share today because my Grandma Nay's birthday is in a couple days:

We were visiting my grandparents home in Utah.  I was alone in the kitchen, fascinated by a bird outside the window, when I heard my mom approaching from behind.  I excitedly told her about the bird and that she should come look at it, too.  I turned around to see her reaction, when, shockingly, I discovered that it was my Grandma Nay whom I had spoken to, out loud!  I quickly recanted my excitement and whispered "I'm sorry!" and left the room.

Now, I know I said in my first post that I wouldn't share lessons learned or successes that have followed, but a friend, providing his feedback, pointed out that if I don't, I may depress my followers if I share failure after failure, especially since not all fails are humorous.  So, in case you don't know me, I've since overcome my shyness.  

My mom was especially afraid to send her wimpy, whispering child to kindergarten.  In the first week or two, she received a call from my teacher.  Thoughts of what the teacher would say about me and how I was too shy to succeed as a student began to enter her mind when my teacher reported that I had gotten in trouble for talking too much to a friend of mine during a lesson.  My mom expressed her happiness that such was case, confusing and perhaps frustrating my teacher.  I've been steadily getting less and less shy ever since.

I was recently at a conference about teaching and learning "social innovation" in universities.  .  We were able to meet lots of people doing great work in the world.  One of my colleagues from the Ballard Center mentioned that he wished he could work for a man we had just met.  I told him we'd make it happen this summer through the on-campus internship program I run.  The next day at lunch, we saw the man walking by, so I told my friend we need to act now.  Without hesitation, I yelled out the man's name, "TED!" and got his attention.  Meanwhile, my friend's jaw dropped with horror that I had just called this man by his first name.  Nonetheless, he got up with me and, after our our pitch on the Ballard Center's on-campus internship program, Ted agreed this sounded like a great idea.  I decided I should get more partners for our program before the conference was over, so I skipped the rest of the day's workshops and talked to several people with varying success, some of which we'll start working with in a few weeks.

I think it's safe to say I'm no longer shy.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hank Fails

Many people will tell you these days how important it is to fail.  In this first post, I'm literally just going to make lists describing my failures, embarrassments, or things I don't feel so great about.  Some will be trivial, others more sober, and some are just silly.

For me, this list is an exercise in humility - a reminder that risks don't always have the desired rewards, that I can't succeed at everything all the time, and that it's okay to fail... often even!  I've learned that if I'm not failing at something in life, I'm not pushing myself enough.

Below is a list of fails I'll post about (and I'll certainly think of more in the meantime, I'm sure).

Hank Fails:

In General

  • Forget birthdays, names, etc.
  • Walk into a room and forget what I was doing
  • Cannot resist candy to save my life


  • SFDC Admin Exam
  • Provo Monster Mile 2012
  • Selling Pest Control in Chicago
  • E in Org B 221... twice
  • E in CS 142
  • W in Econ 381
  • Gained 60 lbs since graduating high school
  • Lost 15 lbs for a race, got sick, gained it all back
  • Interview with Qualtrics
  • Interview with Domo
  • Various applications for jobs

High School

  • Senior year: Did not qualify for state track meet
  • Had a $100 calculator stolen (while taking a found wallet to the lost and found!)
  • Lost $40 deposit to a pyramid scheme
  • Junior year: Ranked 3rd at state track meet and flopped
  • Placed on cross country (XC) varsity team for the state championship race and flopped
  • Got two traffic tickets in one week (plus a parking ticket from my school)
  • Had a laptop-containing backpack stolen
  • Sophomore year: Ate heaps of Skittles right before running a 1-mile time trial for XC & puked
  • Freshman year: Was four seconds short of lettering in XC
  • Got overworked/sick from being on both the track and lacrosse teams at once and couldn't finish either season

Middle School

  • Failed campaign for school senate in 6th grade
  • Was one of the slowest on the XC team


  • Wet my pants at a t-ball game
  • I frowned in almost every picture there is of me as a child
  • Was paralyzingly shy for years

Feel free to email me at if you have suggestions for this list ;-)

Looking forward to exploring my failures more in depth.